Three Georgia Southern students were arrested, then tear gassed by Atlanta Police, after protesting in Atlanta

Tahli Viner, an incoming junior psychology major, was taken in zip-tie restraints after protesting in Atlanta.

Andy Cole

ATLANTA — Three Georgia Southern students were arrested by Atlanta Police (APD) officers while protesting at Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday. 

Kyah Viner, a sophomore psychology major, Tahli Viner, a junior psychology major and K’Hari Viner, a senior health sciences major were all charged with pedestrian walking in the roadway. 

After being detained and waiting in restraints on a bus, the trio alleges APD officers discharged a canister of tear gas outside of the bus. 

The George-Anne has reached out to APD for comment on this allegation. We have not yet received a response. 

The trio have since been released from the Atlanta City Detention Center, where they were held from May 30 to June 1.

According to the brothers, it all began when they were peacefully protesting on a closed-to-traffic road near the CNN Center. 

“As we were sitting there protesting, a black man, who wasn’t even a part of the protest… was biking and [got off] his bike to cross the street in the crosswalk. As he was doing so, some officers rushed him… and took him down to the ground.”

The brothers told The George-Anne that five minutes later, a white female did the same thing. The brothers allege police did not do anything. 

The Viner’s say after that, they decided to lock arms and take a knee in the road.

“No sooner did our knees hit the ground, the police rushed us and they just started attacking everyone,” said Tahli. “It was so barbaric. The scene was just, it was terrifying.”

They say, after being put in zip tie restraints, the brothers were taken to a bus with other detainees around 7:30 p.m. 

Two hours later, the brothers say APD officers discharged the tear gas canister. 

K’Hari said he was able to get himself out of his restraints to open a window on the bus. When he did, K’Hari claimed an officer came on the bus, restrained him once more and said if they got out again they’d be charged with resisting arrest. 

The George-Anne has not been able to verify this claim with APD officials.

The brothers say they finally arrived at the Atlanta City Detention Center around midnight.

The trio stayed there until their court date, which was originally set for 8 a.m. on May 31, but was pushed back until 4 p.m. 

The judge dismissed their charges and allowed them to sign themselves out of jail. However, the brothers remained at the detention center until 4 a.m. on June 1. 

The George-Anne reached out to TaJuan Wilson, Ed.D, associate vice president for inclusive excellence, for a comment. Wilson was not immediately available for comment. 

It is unclear if any other Georgia Southern students were arrested in Atlanta. 

Since being released, the brothers say they attended an additional protest on June 2 and encourage others to do the same.

“As young people, with the energy we bring to everything, it is essential for the generation that came before us and the generation that comes after us that we use our youth and our voices to… push justice in the right direction,” said K’Hari

Andy Cole, Managing Editor for News Coverage, [email protected]